Students, teachers need tech help during pandemic, survey finds

Colorado schools say they need more help developing effective online instruction, providing students computer hardware and access to the internet and supporting students suffering from stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a statewide needs inventory released Monday.

The Colorado Department of Education and the nonprofit Colorado Education Initiative from March 27 to April 4 asked districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, charter schools and facility schools to share their top needs since in-person instruction was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results showed an immediate need for hardware, software and connectivity solutions.

About 53,000 students need WiFi-enabled devices, and about 65,860 children need internet access at home.

The assessment identified four top education needs:

  • support for students and families who are struggling to manage the stresses caused by the pandemic;
  • technical supports for delivering remote learning;
  • online instructional supports for teachers; and
  • help with family engagement.

In addition, the survey identified that increased internet connectivity and assistance with food, mortgages or rent, and unemployment assistance are the top needs for communities.

After the first round of quantitative analysis, CEI interviewed superintendents from across the state to validate and update regional results.

Results will give state and local leaders and philanthropists insight into the needs of educators and communities around the state.

“I am grateful to CEI for helping us gather and validate this information, which will be incredibly useful as we work together with the Governor’s Office and community partners to support districts during this challenging time,” Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a news release.

“I know that our educators and school leaders are struggling with the inequities that may be widening right now — students who were already behind are in some cases falling further behind,” Anthes said. “The information from this needs inventory will help policy makers and potential donors know how to target resources to ensure that we are supporting our most vulnerable students.”

The voluntary assessment was completed by more than 91 percent of districts and BOCES, as well as 186 charter and facility schools.

The department of education and CEI are partnering with the Governor’s Office and philanthropic organizations to respond as quickly as possible by linking donors and federal relief aid to needs.

The final report also details how local priorities differ across regions in the state.

The report showcases the incredible effort by educators, students, and families who are working together to marshal community resources to meet the needs of families, provide devices to students and increase internet connectivity.

The full report is here.